Title: Deep Sleep
Author: Del Rion
Era: Future, post-Heroes
Genre: AU, action, drama
Rating: M / FRM
Characters: Peter Petrelli, Mohinder Suresh, Sylar (, Nathan Petrelli, various other Heroes characters mentioned)
Summary: Peter always wanted to be a hero, but after the greatest failure of his life, all that's left to do is to try repairing the damage he caused; battling his arch-enemy until the end of the world and beyond suddenly doesn't seem far-fetched at all.
Written for: Heroes_Contest's One-shot Challenge 15: Release
Warnings: Violence, death, mass destruction, post-apocalypse. Spoilers for season 1-3, especially season 3.
Beta: Mythra (I take it as a compliment that she called me a sick puppy for writing this!)
Disclaimer: The show, its characters, its places, and everything else belong to Tim Kring and other respective creators and owners of 'Heroes'. I have made no profit by writing this story, and make no claim over the show.
Feedback: Much appreciated.
About Deep Sleep: Originally a quite random beginning from some sort of alternate future –fic, mostly written on a bus. Once the final idea for the actual plot was reached, most of the original text was discarded. Afterwards, I can say this is one of the most complex stories I have written, but that could be because there was no strict outline for a plot for me to follow.
Here it is for your viewing pleasure. Hope you like it.
Story and status: Below you see the writing process of the story. If there is no text after the title, then it is finished and checked. Possible updates shall be marked after the title.
Written for Heroes_Contest's One-shot Challenge 15 (Release).
Deathstars: Play God (Album: Termination Bliss)
Hurt: Wars (Album: Goodbye to the Machine)
A Perfect Circle: Passive (Album: eMOTIVe)
The ground shakes. The horizon shivers. Perhaps it's a trick of the eye, but I know I'm not moving, and the sound of stone shifting, masses moving beneath me…
Earth bends. Mountains collapse. The noise moves in waves, then clashes together, becoming a vortex that sucks everything in. Noise is everywhere.
Cries of terror.
The ground is still moving – hasn't stopped once since it began. The earth and sky are on fire.
The night comes, but there are no lights. The horizon is filled with ash.
When it stops shaking, it's silent. A hushed quiet before the screams start again – and they're all in my head.
A machine beeps.
"You can't dream if you're dead."
The first ragged breath sounded as painful in his ears as it felt in his chest. His eyes adapted to the bright lights directed down at him. Everything smelled… sterile. The machine had calmed down a little – as had his heart.
He felt his skin healing, body catching up. The hollow sensation was still there, though, deep inside his skull where the metal spike had been. It still felt like the first time… well, almost. The first time, he didn't think he would ever wake up again.
"Do you know your name?" A purposeful question from someone who didn't like him; he heard it in the tone, the lack of interest in him. This one hated him for sure.
"Peter Petrelli." The answer came fluently.
"Do you know why you're here?"
The flashes came faster than he could think of the response:
"Save the cheerleader, save the world."
"Together we're going to change history."
"We bring the fight to them. With everything we've got."
Peter hesitated. Then: "I am yet to be told why I'm here."
The man stepped into his line of sight. He smiled, although Peter hoped the expression hadn't reached his eyes so easily. "Excellent. He is stable; we may proceed."
More people walked in, removed Peter's restraints, then dragged him up to his feet. He was taken out through a door that hissed softly as it slid open, then along one clean corridor to another sterile room. He was left standing alone, a neat pile of clothes waiting for him on a bench by the wall. The door was shut and locked, and a high-pitched sound filled the air, barely within Peter's range of hearing; he recalled it was designed to distract certain parts of the brain and make it a lot more taxing for him to use most of his powers.
They fear us so much… Peter mused, although the truth probably was that they didn't fear any other being on earth as much as they feared him – and perhaps Sylar.
Sylar… Peter wondered if the other was still alive. There was no reason why he wouldn't be, but he couldn't rule out the possibility.
He turned towards the clothes, one hand running down the suit he was in now. It felt uncomfortable on him, sticking to his skin at every movement, but it was an improvement; the first few times he woke up, he had been naked. That was definitely more embarrassing that the slight discomfort the suit caused him.
Peter undressed, wishing he could shower, but that would have to wait. He slid on the clothes given to him, and they reminded him of hospital garments – or prison. Simple, cheap, easy to clean. Durable.
The door opened behind him and Peter lifted his head, not looking towards the new arrival – he didn't need to. "Mohinder," he said, softly, then turned.
"Peter," the Indian replied, his voice different than it used to be.
"You're… older," Peter tried to break it to him gently.
Mohinder let out a laugh. "And you look exactly like the day we first met."
"In a cab in New York," Peter confirmed.
Mohinder nodded and laid a clipboard to a table beside him. "Your body seems to be functioning well."
Peter knew why the other was here. "What day is it?" he asked instead.
"Third of May, 2053," Mohinder said smoothly.
It was Peter's turn to nod. No wonder Mohinder looked like he had aged a few decades since Peter last saw him, because he actually had. His hair was turning gray, and there were lines on his face. The veins of his hands were visible beneath the skin. He had lost some weight.
Peter sat down on the bench, folding his hands in his lap, and Mohinder took the chair by the table.
"Why am I here?" Peter finally asked. He could have just as well asked what had happened this time, because he was only woken up from the deep sleep – which others called 'death' – when something was seriously wrong.
"Sylar has been discovered crossing the Ravine."
"Ah," Peter replied. He was alive, then.
"You will be sent out as soon as we are certain you are operational." Mohinder said it in such a way that it made Peter smile despite himself.
"Spoken like a true scientist," Peter finally decided and stood up. Mohinder still sat in his chair, looking up at him. There was something in his eyes, and when Peter strained his brain enough to snatch a thought from his head, he could tell the other was sorry. "Do you still remember the speech you gave me when this all began?" Peter said. "Men like me… there's no way to punish us. There's no law against crimes like ours."
"That was a long time ago," Mohinder shook his head, standing up. "I am going to step aside soon, Peter. I'm old. Time has caught up with me."
Peter had never thought of this day, but then, he had expected to be dead long before it. It saddened him to know that the next time he woke up, the last familiar face would be gone. "I'm sorry to see you go," he said honestly.
"What is it like?" Mohinder asked.
Peter knew what he meant, but honestly, he didn't have the answer. "I'm not sure. It's seems awfully quiet… but then, I'm not sure if I've ever really been dead."
They both knew that was the only answer Peter could provide them with.
The helicopter shook and shivered around him. Peter stared out through the window – which he had been doing ever since they took off. He would have flown faster, but the military wanted to make sure they had their eye on him every step of the way. So, Peter sat there, bound to his seat so that he couldn't have moved even if he had wanted to, and looked at the scenery sliding past them.
They passed areas that looked quite like he remembered the cities used to be; cars and people moving on the ground, living their lives. Then they flew over ghost cities, and Peter could see the soldiers gazing at their radiation detectors, their minds a jungle of nervous thoughts. They were protected in their uniforms, and Peter was protected by his powers when they flew through contaminated areas.
In the distance he could see the barren land that spread on either side of the Ravine. Hundreds of miles where nothing grew, and the earth was upturned as if some great beast had dug it inside out.
"We're closing in on the target," the pilot informed them.
Peter could feel the hairs on the back of his neck rise, and it wasn't just the anticipation doing that. "You should let me out," he suggested kindly, knowing that ordering them what to do wouldn't help.
"Shut up," one of the soldiers snapped.
Peter didn't offer any kind of witty response in return. He merely closed his eyes, held his breath and an instant later the helicopter exploded into pieces around him as a ball of fire hit it. There was a second when everyone screamed, then silence, and then Peter took flight, leaving the falling wreckage behind, knowing everyone inside was already dead. His body was already mending the damage done to it, fixing burnt and torn skin, pushing out pieces of metal.
Sylar hovered in the air above him, grinning. The man looked just the same.
"What are you doing here?" Peter demanded once he was within earshot. They both had enhanced hearing at their disposal, but it felt like cheating to Peter to use it this soon. And besides, he didn't want to listen to the wreckage of the helicopter hitting the ground below them…
"But Peter, you make it sound as if I'm not welcome here," Sylar replied, a mocking undertone ever present in his voice.
"You're not." Peter didn't have to elaborate on that.
"It's awfully lonely out there on the other side."
"Well, that's what you get, tearing a continent apart," Peter snapped back.
"Oh, but don't you remember? We did that together!" Sylar chided. "That's almost like the sort of thing that brothers do." He paused, and Peter knew that whatever came out of his mouth next wasn't going to be pleasant. "Did you and Nathan do stuff like that?"
There. Peter felt his temper start flooding his judgment.
"Of course not," Sylar laughed, still mocking him. "He was too busy locking you up and disowning you."
"Go back to the other side," Peter tried one more time. His hands were growing hot, preparing for a strike.
"See if you can make me, Pete," Sylar whispered, and sped towards him.
Peter moved to the side, sending a blast of radioactive fire after him. Ice met his attack, and Peter changed to electricity just in time to meet a crackling assault from Sylar. They were equally matched, and Peter let out a shout of frustration, sound waves crashing towards Sylar and pushing him back momentarily.
Sylar recovered fast, speeding towards him again. This time Peter waited until they would collide, but Sylar stopped just before that, a telekinetic punch propelling Peter backwards through the air. Blinking, Peter stopped time, and regained his balance. He floated back to Sylar, the other frozen in place. How easy it would be… But Peter had never killed anyone like this, and he wouldn't start now although the idea was very tempting.
Focusing, he resumed time and gifted Sylar with a solid punch in the jaw as Peter turned his right arm into metal. With the other temporarily shocked, Peter grabbed him and they both plunged towards the ground. Sylar struggled, then began to laugh. Peter just gritted his teeth, and when they hit the earth, he phased through it. He counted five seconds, then let go of Sylar and concentrated extra hard as he floated back to the surface. Once there, he took a deep breath and waited.
The ground began to tremble some seconds later, rock and dirt rising from the ground as Sylar erupted through it. Peter stood his ground, eyeing his opponent. "We can do this all day," he said at last.
Sylar spat dirt out of his mouth, then drew a stained sleeve across his equally dirty face. His eyes were ominous, staring at Peter. Then, finally, he took flight and headed west.
Peter didn't for one moment think he had won. He had perhaps annoyed Sylar enough to make him return to his side of the Ravine, but the other would be back.
He sat down, looking around. Every time he wished they would pick a better spot. Something that was closer to civilization. A place where Peter could see that not all hope was lost, instead of this dead land. But his very existence was probably a national secret, and the chances of seeing a city vibrant with life was near to impossible.
An hour passed before he could hear another helicopter in the air. It landed as soon as they spotted him, armed men approaching him as if he was going to explode. Peter knew that there was no point telling them he was going to come peacefully; they were here, the Ravine in the horizon, and all of them could remember all too well what he was capable of.
"And he gave you no reason for his presence?" the man asked once again. He was clothed in an army uniform, but Peter didn't know if he was a high ranking officer or just some middle man.
"None other than that he was lonely," Peter answered truthfully. He was leaning heavily on his chair, hands and feet bound. His head and chest throbbed, the drugs in his system making it hard to focus on talking. In the back of the room he could see Mohinder, looking weary. How many of these post-operation-interrogations had they both sat through?
"It makes no sense," the army official muttered.
"With all due respect, Sylar usually makes no sense. He is one man, with no agenda. He is holding onto West America, and as far as we know, there is no one else alive out there," Mohinder spoke up.
"We have information that he might be gathering a following," the man from the army noted. He gave Peter a suspicious look, as if he was going to get up and join Sylar.
"Collecting powers is what he is addicted to. That makes it hard for other specials to follow him. Other than that… if someone's crazy enough to set foot on that side of the Ravine, can we do anything about it?" Mohinder argued. "If he's such a threat, go hunt him down. You've been planning on doing that for as long as I can remember."
The man muttered something, and Peter would have chuckled had he been able to. All these years he had heard big words about taking Sylar down, but whenever he showed up on the side of East America, Peter was the one who was sent out. Today had been a good example: normal human beings and their technologies were no match to the latest stride of evolution.
"They tried to take him out with missiles five years ago, but the bastard still breathes," the army official finally growled. "How is that possible?"
Immortality, Peter thought. Ultimate, endless power. He is a god… we both are.
"We're done here. Send him back to preservation." The army man exited the room, and Peter was released and moved over to the table that was just as hard and cold as it had been the first time he was laid on it. Some things, although decades had passed, didn't change…
"Goodbye, Peter," Mohinder said softly, touching his hand after he had been secured.
Peter just smiled, then saw the Indian move slightly and a burning pain filled his senses as the metal spike slid through his skull to his brain.
His fingers grasping onto Mohinder's tensed then relaxed as his eyes glazed over.
Does it exist merely as something bound to religion, or is it an idea of strength and power not from this world?
I have never been particularly religious, other than on a few occasions when everything else seemed to fail. Still the true existence of the Lord of All piques my interest.
On occasion people are declared saints. Does that mean they are one step closer to God – or is it just an illusion of the church?
When one looks at it the right way, God is a simple matter of power. All-powerful. That is what they claim God to be. And if one is to achieve that, are they thereby God themselves?
"What can you do these days, Peter?"
I have regained my empathy after a long struggle, all the abilities at my disposal. Sylar, following my trail, gained those powers and left a bloody path in his wake.
We are like gods…
We are evenly matched. There is no weapon to overcome us. We are both immortal, unable to die. A war is declared between us, uncontrolled and unstoppable – until…
Back in 2014
None who lived would ever forget that day.
It was July 13th. Sunday. Not that it mattered to them; Sylar wanted to fight, and he made sure Peter shared that particular desire by killing Hiro. He didn't even take his power, which amazed Peter somewhat. But Hiro was dead, and while Peter knew he could go back in time and fix it, fighting Sylar was so much simpler than that. So much more… satisfactory.
After years of struggle they no longer exchanged physical blows. Touch just wasn't required. It was almost like modern warfare, with their missiles and long range weapons. Only, they didn't need guns; they had their own means of mass destruction gifted by nature.
They soared to the sky, air rippling around them. Electricity and fire. Telekinesis and power fields. It wasn't small, and none of it was for show. Sylar aimed a blast of fire at him, but Peter teleported before it could hit, and when he reappeared behind Sylar, he could see a smoking mountaintop in the distance, several dozen feet of its original height missing. Pieces of stone were still crashing down along its sides.
They clashed again, and again. Peter allowed his rage to fill him, thinking of Hiro's dead body, and all the others Sylar had killed. But Hiro saddened him most because the memory of him was still fresh in Peter's mind; he had been a friend and an ally for a long time and his passing was meaningless since Sylar hadn't taken his power. It was murder just for the sake of attracting Peter's interest.
Well, Sylar had his undivided attention now.
A blast of electricity hit him, dropping him several thousand feet before Peter's healing power kicked in and allowed him to fly again. Sylar came closer, tackled him, and Peter gazed heavenwards. Thunder rumbled above them, a flash of lightning reaching down towards them. Peter could feel the pressure in his head, associated with the ability he was using to collect enough power to smash Sylar to the ground; it would take the other a while to recover from that, and it probably wouldn't storm in the area for the next month.
"Miss your mom, Pete?" Sylar taunted him, grinning. "Miss your brother?"
Peter lost his concentration. A thunderbolt flashed past them, leaving a crater in the ground far below.
"Tell me again how much you love me, Pete," Sylar went on.
Peter replied with a scream and a burst of radioactive heat. In his head, he could still hear Nathan's voice. The last thing he had said to him…
"I love you Pete. You know that?"
That was the last time he spoke to his brother. Afterwards it had been Sylar, and Peter could never forget the day he walked into his brother's room only to find the man he thought they had burned and buried. Sylar told him everything, his appearance still writhing between that of himself and Peter's brother, but Parkman's hold had been broken and there was no going back. Peter wasn't going to go back.
When Angela Petrelli was found dead three months later, her car driven off a bridge to the bottom of a river, Peter didn't know if it had been an accident, a suicide, or if Sylar had a part to play in it. Peter didn't know if he even cared. Now, he missed her, just like he missed Nathan.
And Sylar was always there to remind him of it.
"Come now, Peter. You can do better than that!" Sylar shouted up at him.
When Peter had first acquired the power to control and create seismic activity, he never thought of the perks of using it. The idea of stuffing Sylar into a crack in the earth and closing it with him still inside… was tempting. The downside to that plan was that Sylar too had the power, and when they clashed, heedless of the damage they were causing in their attempts to take each other out, the term 'global disaster' got a whole new meaning.
It was just like any other Sunday in July. The day was not different from any other day – not before Peter and Sylar clashed, a mile in the air, and Peter wanted nothing more than to rip his enemy apart.
Instead, they tore the whole continent in two.
None who lived would ever forget that day.
By the time they stopped fighting, bloody, clothes torn and burned, bodies healing from massive injuries, Peter could tell something was wrong. Below them on the ground a huge rupture was spreading, heat and gases creating a suffocating cloud around it. The ground was visibly shaking and the rumble grew stronger each second. The rupture was growing, disappearing beyond Peter's sight like a crack in the ice, and he began to realize something was very, very wrong.
He focused, trying to stop it, but it seemed his power was no longer controlling the earthquake. He could feel it, but it was like watching a shoal of fish escape from your net and their slimy bodies slipping from your grasp…
A bolt of electricity struck him in the back, and he looked at Sylar who was hovering a hundred feet above him. "Stop!" Peter screamed up at the other man. "We have to stop this before it's too late!"
But Sylar didn't answer. He was looking at something, and Peter rose higher to see himself. With enhanced eyesight which they had both acquired from a man in Wichita, Kansas, they could see a city up north tremble – then collapse and disappear. Explosions could be heard, and Peter tried to listen harder.
That's when the screams began. Beneath the deafening roar of shifting earth, he could hear thousands of voices crying out in several languages. Peter cried out in pain, trying to block it out, but it was all too loud. It was as if… everyone everywhere were screaming at the same time.
He didn't even notice he had started to lose altitude until Sylar grabbed him and stopped his uncontrolled fall. The thick eyebrows were drawn together in a frown, but instead of letting Peter go, he held onto him as the tremors went on all around them. The ground was being torn apart below them, molten rock sliding out through the rupture, spreading heat and smoke everywhere. Explosions echoed in the distance, mingling with the sound of earth collapsing into the gaping wound on the ground.
"We have to stop it," Peter said weakly.
"I don't think we can," Sylar replied.
The tremors did not shake merely Missouri above which they had fought, but the entire country from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic. It was said it could be felt all over the planet. The fight only lasted for hours, but the aftershocks went on for weeks.
When Peter returned to New York, it was chaos every step of the way. All electricity was gone, and the rumor was that most nuclear plants had malfunctioned or even been destroyed due to the earthquake. Hundreds of buildings lay in ruin in every city he passed. Millions were dead in New York City alone. And Peter knew it was no better out there in other places.
It took weeks before some kind of emergency power grid was built. Another week before any kind of news reached them. When they finally heard what was really going on, Peter hoped it hadn't happened. Not yet. Not ever.
The American continent had been torn apart. New Orleans had disappeared, and a gorge almost a hundred miles wide and an area of utter destruction around it spread north from Lousiana, up along the Mississippi river – or where the river had once been – then up north-east through Ohio. The whole state of Michigan was gone. The gorge spread in two from there, one rupture spreading up through the province of Ontario in Canada to Hudson Bay. Another rupture had taken an eastern route from Lake Ontario, following the St. Lawrence River up and out to the Atlantic. There had been no word from the great cities of Ottawa and Montreal, and there wasn't much hope of survivors in that area.
Each day, the news got worse. Confirming every rumor was hard, so sometimes Peter flew out to see for himself, and usually the destruction was worse than what was being told to the public in the news.
Everything west of the Rocky Mountains was dead. The earthquake had destroyed California completely, hundreds of miles of shoreline sinking into the ocean as the tectonic plates beneath the area moved violently along the San Andreas fault. With nuclear power gone, Southern Arizona and California were contaminated with radiation no one could control with the means they had. Aftershocks wrecked the uneasy area, and millions of people migrated to the other side of the Rocky Mountains – then to the other side of the gorge now called the Ravine.
In South America things were almost worse. Mexico, Central America, and the already seismic areas north and east of South America were all but destroyed. In Japan, there was no knowing how many were dead. Hundreds of tsunamis rushed across the Pacific and Atlantic Ocean, adding to the already existing destruction on the islands they first encountered – of some of them not much was left afterwards.
The Earthquake was sudden, and the complete toll was beyond imagination. On the Richter scale, what shook America was easily above 9. Some said that whatever caused the Ravine must have been close to 10 – which had never been seen before, and couldn't be proven. Peter didn't doubt that for a moment, because it was no natural disaster that had caused this.
"I did this," he said one day, sitting in what was left of Mohinder Suresh's living room.
"What did you say?" the man looked up at him.
"I did this," Peter said, nodding towards the television flickering between images of destruction. Nothing else was on these days; just images, information, and lists of people dead, missing, or looking for their beloved ones.
"I… Peter," Mohinder said slowly, clearly out of words. Peter didn't blame him.
"I fought Sylar. I think we used the seismic power at the same time. I think we were… just above where the Ravine is now. Once I realized what was going on, I couldn't stop it anymore. Everything was shaking and it didn't stop when I stopped. It was like a chain reaction, growing bigger and bigger…" Peter closed his eyes and tried to breathe. He could still remember the screams. For months he had been listening to them now, all over the world. He wasn't certain if they would ever stop.
Mohinder said nothing to that. He just stood there by the sink, looking at Peter as if he had a hard time comprehending.
Peter didn't blame him.
"I have to tell them. I will confess," Peter said with determination. His skin was itching, probably a reaction to the radiation hanging over the abandoned remnants of Burlington, Kansas.
"You were always a fool, Peter," Sylar shot back, but he didn't sound like he was going to shed a tear. Frankly, Peter wasn't all that certain if he had regretted what they had caused for one single second.
"What are you going to do?" Peter asked. He wasn't certain if he wanted to know, but in a twisted sort of way they were together in this.
"Disappear. Be my own man. You know, there's lots of empty, unpopulated land on the west side of Rocky Mountains." The serial killer smiled to himself.
"Contaminated and desolate is more like it. Nothing can live in there," Peter argued.
"I can't believe you're going to stake your claim on that area!"
"No one else wants it right now, and early bird catches the worm. So, have fun trying to explain this, Peter. I'm sure if anyone can, it's you." With that, Sylar shot into the air and sped towards what was later to be called West America.
"We should kill him!"
"Didn't he tell us there is another like him on the loose?"
"Then we go out there and bring him to justice. They've brought genocide upon us."
"We've been tracking these anomalies for years. You can't just go in with guns blazing. You must understand what we're up against."
"Then by God tell me so we can be done with this!"
"Look out of the window. Look at the news. You'll understand," Mohinder cut in.
Peter had been sitting with his head hanging so far, but now he looked up as his friend was escorted into the room.
"Dr. Suresh," one of the men in the room – the one who had just said they couldn't be caught – shook hands with Mohinder. "I believe you are an expert when it comes to these… special people."
"As close as one can come to an expert," Mohinder said a bit tensely.
"What can they do?" the man from before demanded. Peter guessed he worked for the army, or some other organization. He reached out with his mind and confirmed that he worked for the Department of Homeland Security – or what was left of it.
"Peter and Sylar can do… everything," Mohinder replied haltingly. "They have the ability to copy the powers of other specials, although their means to acquire said powers vary from each other like night and day; Peter here can do whatever the others can do by merely being in their presence. Sylar, on the other hand, always kills for the power. How exactly he gains it, I'm not sure."
"It still doesn't answer my question: what can they do?"
Mohinder shifted, looking at Peter. "All the powers I know of…" He stopped and hesitated. "I will write you a list of all powers that have come to my knowledge so far. It might not be all of them, and I have no way of knowing whom Peter has been in contact with."
"I can do the list," Peter said in a small voice.
"Shut him up," the man from DHS snapped. "He is a terrorist and –"
"He came to you willingly," Mohinder finally spoke up. "If he wanted to, he could walk, phase, fly, or blow himself out of here right this second. There is no working cure or drug to keep their powers at bay – nothing lasting at least. And if you plan on hurting him, he already knows it because he is telepathic and can read all our minds."
That shut the room up, although Peter could hear their thoughts working a mile a minute.
"He knows what I'm thinking?" one of the scientists present asked, looking fascinated.
"You're thinking it isn't possible," Peter answered.
The DHS man gave him a look, but didn't say anything this time.
"Remarkable," the scientist noted. "We must study him. Dr. Suresh, it would be most appreciated if you sat down with us to talk–"
"You are talking about a terrorist here, and he isn't going to be studied anywhere," the DHS representative rumbled. "He will be sentenced to death any time now. After all, he has already given away the location of his accomplice."
"He and Sylar are enemies, and there is a minor problem with your plan: he cannot die," Mohinder pointed out.
Peter wondered if the scientist would tell them that blowing his head off would actually do the trick, but he remained silent for now. He had caused the greatest global disaster ever known to man, and if his death was a solution of some kind… he was going to accept it. After all, he didn't think he could change any of this, and killing him would prevent it from ever happening again.
"What do you mean he can't die?" the DHS agent and the scientists asked at the same time.
"Rapid cellular regeneration," Mohinder explained. "His body heals itself."
Several men and women swore around the room.
"So there is no way to kill him? No poison?"
Peter met Mohinder's eyes. He nodded, but the Indian slowly shook his head. No, Peter. You're not the enemy here. You made a mistake, but your death won't make a difference. There must be another way you can repay your mistake. Mohinder's words were hurried in his head, and then the other moved to answer: "Well, there is one way, but it isn't indefinite," Mohinder said. "If the brain is… pierced by something, the healing will stop until the object is removed. He would be as good as dead, and if we ever chose to use him…"
"Use him? He's a felon!" the man from the Department of Homeland Security snapped.
"There might be a day when Sylar comes back," Mohinder reasoned. "There might be a day when you need one of Peter's powers, and bringing him back will be a swift and painless answer. By that time, perhaps the scientists will have created a way to govern his powers so that he is no danger to us."
If there was something that made men think twice, it was the idea of having power over someone else – controlling something stronger than themselves. It was ever a temptation to the human mind, and Peter knew at that instant that Mohinder had either saved him – or doomed him.
"Are you comfortable?" Mohinder asked.
Peter lay on a table in a facility that looked remarkably new. Machines were hooked into him, monitoring his heart and brain activity. "I'm fine, Mohinder. Will you be here when…?" He didn't finish. It was a ridiculous idea. He smiled a little, looking up at the man next to the table.
"I'm certain they will bring you back," Mohinder replied softly, and surprisingly, he took Peter's hand in his. "Think of it like… sleep."
"Deep sleep," Peter smiled, nodding. He was nervous. He had died before, but this was different. This time he was allowing them to do it to him.
Nurses and doctors were around him, and behind a safety glass window a group of military personnel watched.
"I'm sorry," Peter finally said as Mohinder let go and stepped back. A nurse moved in, and Peter craned his neck to look at him. "Could you… could Dr. Suresh do it?"
The nurse nodded, stepping back. Peter settled back down, feeling the restraints against his chest as he tried to breathe evenly. His heart beat faster. Mohinder moved behind him. Peter had seen the machine when they brought them in: it would shoot a metal spike in to his brain through the back of his head. If that didn't kill him, nothing would.
"Sleep well, Peter," Mohinder said, but Peter could tell the other didn't expect him to wake up ever again.
Frankly, neither did he.
The earth is grey. The dust has settled. It's silent.
A whole flock of birds lies spread across the highway. Hundred feet further an airplane has crashed, bringing down lights, powerlines, and what used to be an overpassing ramp of the junction.
It's so quiet.
Then the earth starts trembling again. A lone car is stuck between two huge blocks of concrete, and a little child is crying inside. The concrete shifts, the car sliding backwards towards the ground. The little child – a girl – screams. The earth is rupturing, swallowing broken stone and wreckage. The tremors go on. The car slides, rolls over, and disappears down into the hole in the ground.
The girl is still screaming.
Peter woke up with a gasp. His heart was pounding in his chest and he tried frantically to sit up, but something was holding him down…
"Peter," a voice said. An alien one he didn't know.
Peter opened his eyes, blinded by the lights directed down at him. He could feel he was strapped down to something that felt like a metal surface. Like an autopsy table…
"Peter?" The same voice again, but this time someone pushed his eyelid up and shined an extra light into his eye. "He is responsive."
"Good." A familiar voice at last. Peter turned his head and saw Mohinder on the other side of the room, wearing a white coat that was in contrast with his dark skin. "How do you feel, Peter?"
"I was dreaming," Peter said. He wasn't certain what it had been, really, but it all felt very, very familiar.
"You can't dream if you're dead," Mohinder responded with a frown, but he sounded very certain.
"Tell it to my brain, not me," Peter huffed, then coughed. "I was dead?" he finally asked. It made some kind of sense, too, just like those horrid images.
"You don't remember?"
"Just give me a little time," Peter requested, looking at his old friend. "I think I just... died and came back."
Mohinder smiled. "Yes you did, Peter."
"So maybe what I thought was a dream was something that happens when you… start to bring me back," he guessed, frowning a bit. Pieces were starting to fall back into place in his head.
"They told us to bring you back," Mohinder explained after a while, taking a blood sample from him as he spoke.
"They have a problem locating some people. Terrorists, I believe. After The Earthquake, things changed. A lot of things are now far more valuable than they used to be. And choosing a path of crime is a lot easier. But I think this is something that's coming at us from Mexico; things aren't going all that well out there," Mohinder explained.
"And they want me to…"
"Find them, probably destroy them. You have Molly's power, right?"
Peter nodded. "Is she okay?" he asked suddenly. What he could remember, it hadn't been all that clear when he last talked to Mohinder – whenever that had been.
"Yes, she is fine. They felt it in India, but were strangely fortunate."
"What year is it?" Peter asked.
"2018. You've been dead for almost four years. They call this preservation, as if it made a difference where they kept you," Mohinder told him, shaking his head. "If you feel strong enough, I'm going to let you go and put some sedative into your system. They don't feel like taking risks with you."
Peter nodded and sat up as the restraints were removed. Mohinder offered him a hospital gown, which he took gladly; being naked made him feel somewhat awkward. He felt a little tense, but if he had lain still for four years, it was no surprise. "How's the world?" he finally asked, the sense of guilt once again creeping into his mind. What he had done…
"Once it came into public knowledge what caused the disaster, there was an uproar. I'm not sure if people would have preferred to hear something else, like that it was a natural disaster or an act of terrorism. The Pope declared you and all of your kind an Abomination after the Vatican barely survived The Earthquake – yet you're an abomination the US government is only too happy to keep at their disposal. The world thinks you were killed, though. It's safer that way."
"As far as the public is concerned, he never existed. He's still holding West America, though. He destroyed several attempts the army made to retake that land, and they just gave up. Nothing grows there, anyway. It's a wasteland."
Peter nodded, taking it in.
"You know I'm here just because we were friends once?" Mohinder asked as he stuck a needle into Peter and pumped enough sedatives into him to actually take effect. "There's no law against crimes like yours. No punishment suitable enough. I feared what they might do to you, so I told them they could use my expertise, and at the same time I could try and lessen your suffering…"
"And now I'm your lab rat," Peter smiled. He didn't ask if anyone had ever found out Mohinder was in fact one of the Abominations himself. Or perhaps Mohinder had found an indefinite cure for it.
Mohinder helped him up and they walked to the door, then across the hallway to another room. A single chair stood in the middle of it, and Peter was sat down, then cuffed in place by some man in an uniform. Mohinder left, giving him one last look before disappearing.
Soon after a group of people entered, all of them wearing grim expressions. Some had sunglasses on their faces, which amused Peter; like they were from some bad action movie. Only this wasn't a movie, and Peter wasn't particularly fond of the way they eyed him.
"Peter Petrelli, you have been… awakened…" the man talking hesitated for a bit.
Revived, Peter suggested in his mind, but didn't speak up.
"You owe this country a great debt," the man went on. "It is time for you to start repaying it today."
Peter wondered if the other had rehearsed this speech like Nathan used to practice his own. Were the words carefully selected? Then again, it wasn't as if Peter had any room to say no or decline, since if he did, he would be back on that table and dead within two minutes, he assumed.
"There has been a steady flow of recreational drugs to the United States, and the state this country is in, we need to act now. We have located the major processing plant in Mexico, as well as fields they use to grow the drugs. The situation down there is dangerous and explosive, so we will send you instead. Besides that, we have people we need to locate – key members of that operation."
Peter looked at the man, trying to focus. The sedatives made his head a little fuzzy, but he understood what was required of him. And he had no problem doing it, really, since it was for the good of the American people. He could only imagine what the havoc he had wrecked had driven them to do to survive from one day to the next…
"Which do you want taken care of first?" Peter asked.
The men looked at each other, then at him. The same man spoke up again: "How long will it take you to locate the people?"
"Just give me their pictures and a map," Peter replied curtly.
It seemed to be a pleasant surprise to them. Peter just felt like rolling his eyes, only his head hurt too much for him to be seriously tempted to do it.
"We shall begin with the plant and plantations."
He was released from his chair, but his hands remained cuffed. He wasn't certain if the men knew it was no good after they stopped giving him the sedatives to mess up his head. He didn't bother informing them of their 'mistake', since he had no reason to attack them or try to get away.
Next he was dragged back to another room and given clothes. A tracking device was locked around his ankle, but he was pretty certain it couldn't withstand radioactive heat or unlimited freezing. Yet he wasn't about to escape, so he allowed them their routines. If it made them feel safe…
An airplane was waiting outside the building. He was taken in and secured to his seat before they took off. Peter wondered why Mohinder hadn't just told them he could fly on his own. They showed him maps and photos of the area, which attracted Peter's attention for a moment, but when they began to speak of useful tactics and possible complications, he just turned his head to look out the small window. There would be no complications if these soldiers just stood back and allowed Peter to do his job. If he needed to look after them, it might make it a bit more difficult.
"Just keep your men out of my way," he told the lieutenant in charge. "I don't want to worry about bystanders and your men's safety." Peter wasn't about to go off and kill everyone that came his way. He would destroy the plant, and he would burn the fields, but he wasn't there to slaughter innocents. He had a conscience still.
The flight lasted for few more hours – less than Peter had expected, but they probably didn't follow any standard routes to begin with. When the plane finally shuddered and Peter could feel the lurch in his stomach, he knew they were landing.
"We're here," one of the men whom Peter playfully called 'handlers' in his head, informed him and pulled him out. Hot air blew in to his face as he stepped out, mildly reminding him of a few too-hot summers back home – or his and Nathan's trip to Haiti. He took a breath, his body accepting this new climate, and then he was being dragged to the side, the plane rolling out of sight behind a building that looked like some abandoned tower. This airport hadn't been used in a while.
"How far are we from the target?" Peter asked casually.
"About fifty miles. We're waiting for cars to take us –"
Peter had held back his annoyance all the way here, but now he just groaned. "Why don't you align that plane to take off, and I'll go do what you guys brought me here to do. I won't be long. By the time you have even loaded those cars, I'll already be there, doing my job." It came out tougher than he felt, but then, he had learned a lot about survival during the last few years… Well, when he had last been alive, anyway. The strong ruled over the weak, and Peter knew it had been a long time since he could have been mistaken as anything but the strongest of the almighty.
With that, he phased his hand free of his cuffs, nodded at the lieutenant, took a map from one of the soldiers, then took flight. Someone had been nice enough to draw their location on the map, and so he would have no trouble finding his way back; he didn't think the people who woke him up would take it kindly if he flew all the way back to the USA on his own.
Five minutes later he had circled the plant twice – it was really a mere warehouse – then soared lower. He listened and located all the heat sources inside the building, then used enhanced vision that enabled him to strip away certain layers until he could look at the building as if it was an x-ray image. It was hard to recall all the powers he had in his possession, and which of them would be handy now; he had grown accustomed to using most of them while he played cat and mouse with Sylar, since creativity was what always made one of them win a battle.
He knew that simple means would be enough here. These people would just try to shoot him with their guns.
Once he had assessed what he was up against, Peter teleported to the ground. A few men carrying bags outside the warehouse looked at him and exclaimed in apparent surprise. Peter didn't need an ability to know that they didn't like people appearing from the middle of nowhere. They dropped their bags, and pointed two fairly new looking machine guns at him, opening fire before Peter could even open his mouth to talk. He wondered if there was a stamp 'enemy' somewhere on his forehead.
The first few bullets went right through him, but phasing wasn't the easiest way to keep them at bay. Peter lifted his hand, creating a power field to keep them away from him as he walked over to the plant and slid through the wall. Inside it was even hotter, and Peter was afraid to do anything in fear of setting the entire building on fire.
That didn't seem to concern the locals who drew out their guns and began to shoot at him. Peter flung the bullets aside with telekinesis, then threw caution to the wind and sent a spark of electricity to crawl up the walls. As soon as it hit one of the machines it shorted out, sending sparks into the air.
The workers began to rush out in a hurry while the men with the guns kept harassing Peter. He knew he had to toss them out himself or let them burn. Peter blew open the wide doors in the other end of the building and then focused on the shooters, first jamming their weapons by changing their molecular structure, then flinging them out through the open door with another telekinetic push. After that he set the place on fire, making sure it burned, then shot out through the roof. The warehouse exploded beneath him and he headed out to the fields he could see in the distance, blowing up trucks on the ground as he went.
He could tell he had the right location because he was shot at as soon as he came into sight. Not that it mattered; he scattered the guards like tiny toy soldiers, then lit the plants on fire, making sure they were all gone before he froze the burned area and headed back out.
The American soldiers were in the middle of arguing with their headquarters, it seemed, when Peter landed. They raised their weapons and Peter raised his hands, sighing. "It's done. Do you have the pictures I asked for?"
The man in charge frowned.
"You wanted to hunt down some men?" Peter reminded him. "Do you want to do it while we're still here, or should we head back home?"
"HQ tells us to do it now," the soldier on the radio said. "They say they've confirmed the plant and the fields have been destroyed."
"Well done," Peter was told, but not in any particularly fond way.
A small table was carried out from somewhere, and a set of pictures placed on it. Peter stood by them, then took the map he was offered and spread it beside the pictures.
He went through them one by one, one finger on top of the picture, his mind reaching out, and then his other hand pointed out the location on the map. He wanted to make sure he didn't miss anyone, but in the end he could see they were all at the same location on American soil.
The soldiers radioed that in, and the plane rolled back into view. Peter was about to suggest he would fly on his own, but the look from the lieutenant told him to shut up. They got in, Peter was secured once again, and they took off. They landed on another abandoned airfield where a group of helicopters were already waiting. Peter could have made this so much easier for all of them, but he just sat in his seat and enjoyed the ride. Let the army do their thing.
It seemed that the further they went, the more nervous the soldiers grew. Peter wondered about that, then took a look around. In the darkening horizon he could see jagged stones like an uneven line of teeth. Everything was covered in dark stones and there was not a single plant to be seen.
"Why would they be this close to the Ravine?" one of the soldiers muttered.
"Because they don't want us finding them," the leader scoffed, but he didn't seem any happier about being here.
Peter understood now. It wasn't as if he wanted to be any closer to this place, but then, he had no fear of it. There had been no volcanic or seismic activity here after The Earthquake ended, as far as he knew. The tremors were over. It was all just… dead.
"Prepare to land," one of the pilots announced.
Peter was in no hurry to be down there. He didn't know what he was supposed to do, really. He thought it better to ask, though, before they rushed into the situation. "How are we to handle these people I've tracked down?"
The lieutenant looked at him, as if not understanding Peter's question.
"Do we have to kill them?" Peter clarified.
In his head, Peter translated it so that he wouldn't have to kill anyone, which he was fine with.
They landed and stepped out. The soldiers had their guns at the ready although it seemed there was nothing there to threaten them. Then made their way in the darkening evening towards a slight rise, and on the other side of it could clearly be seen remnants of some old building. Parts of it were still standing, looking out of place in the middle of the abandoned openness around it.
The soldiers were still checking their equipment for radiation. Peter wasn't as worried, but he couldn't blame the others. They didn't have powers like his to defend themselves.
"The targets –" one of the soldiers began.
"Are inside," Peter finished his question and provided the answer. "Shall I make my move? They heard your helicopter miles away, but they're hoping it was just a random border patrol."
"How do you know?" the man asked.
"Because that's what they're thinking right now. Out here, there are relatively few thoughts to listen to," Peter explained.
The men looked at him a little suspiciously, and Peter sighed, then moved out; he didn't need to be told out loud that it was time.
He crept closer to the building, taking in the layout, the number of people inside, and wondered if he should just take them out from a distance. But he didn't want to hurt them if he could avoid it, even if these were men who hauled drugs from the plant he had destroyed earlier that day.
After he was close enough, he straightened up and sought a memory of Claude Rains from the depths of his mind. There was no way he could tell he was invisible, other than that he 'felt' it – after he had had enough practice with that particular power, it was like a soft current of electricity traveling across his body when he disappeared from others.
Peter moved to the house, finding all the windows barricaded. So, he phased through the wall, not bothering to use his x-ray vision when he could just sneak in and see for himself. He moved around the house quietly. He counted men and weapons, learned their location, and pondered the best possible approach. And then when he was done, he turned visible.
The faces of the men were pretty much the same as at the plant. Disbelief, fear, and anger at being surprised so; suspicion swiftly overran by aggression and a need to survive. All those emotions threw Peter back for a moment, a fault he hadn't been able to get rid of since his powers first manifested.
Most of the men opened fire at once. Peter had learned years ago to count how many hits he could take before he needed to allow his body to heal. He took about two dozen hits then built an invisible protective wall around himself, feeling the bullets pop back out of his body. Wounds healed though the smell of blood lingered. The men stopped firing after a moment, perhaps realizing that if their bullets kept falling into a circle around Peter, there was something at work there.
Peter pondered if he should give them a fair chance to fight, but decided against it. He had been sent out on a mission, and if he went easy on these criminals, they would just get him or themselves hurt more than was necessary. So, he changed the pressure in the air, changing certain molecular balances, and a few seconds later they all passed out, falling to the floor. Peter just held his breath until it was done.
He wondered if he would get a pat on the head as thanks before they put that metal spike through his brain again.
Haiti. The eclipse.
"I needed to know I could be a hero without my powers."
A hero… a hero to the end…
Someone who can make a difference. Someone who can save the world from itself.
"I needed to know I could be a hero without my powers."
Another place… another time…
"That's stupid, Peter. Your powers define you. Without them you're not complete. Without them… you would be someone else. Weaker. Without purpose. Without existence."
Sylar smiles. His hands are glowing. His eyes are glowing. Against the blaring sun, he looks like a god.
"We are here for a purpose, Peter," he says. "And our purpose is not to be weak."
The pain lasted only a moment, after which it all started again; the memories rushed back. His body restored itself.
Peter shook and gasped for air his lungs had so long been deprived of. It was like drowning and crawling back to life again. The deep sleep never got any less disgusting to wake up from.
He looked around, his neck feeling a little stiff. Not one face was in the room that Peter would have felt familiar with, but it was something he had grown used to. Patiently he waited for them to determine that he was alive, that his vitals were returning to normal and stabilizing, after which they asked him a series of control questions to determine his mind was stable as well. Then they let him go, showed him to another room with a set of clothes, and…
It was such a routine that when a doctor he didn't know stepped into the room after he had dressed, Peter hesitated for a second. "You're not Dr. Suresh," he stated quite unnecessarily.
The man didn't even bother shaking his head in denial. "Dr. Suresh has been dead for eight years."
"What day is it?"
"January 15th, 2067."
"Oh," Peter mumbled. It had been a while since they last woke him up. Last time, Mohinder had been old and about to step aside… and now he was gone. Had been gone for eight years. And still Peter felt no different himself. The deep sleep – death – was stealing his life from him.
"They will brief you in a moment," the doctor told him as he checked Peter's vitals again.
"What is it this time?" Peter asked, knowing the other probably wasn't at liberty to say.
"Sylar," the doctor responded, then left the room, finished with his inspection. Peter really missed Mohinder and the kind words the man would give him every time he woke up. The only kindness there has been left for Peter in this world.
They dropped him down near the Ravine. Perhaps some past lecture had taught them that taking Peter all the way until they made contact with the target wasn't the smartest thing to do – not when the target in question would shoot you down before your radar even found him.
Peter didn't mind. It left him with a moment to experience a false sensation of freedom; as if he had been released from all his guilt and the arrangement with the American government. It wasn't a fair arrangement to begin with, and he was right to bear a grudge against it, but he had caused millions, if not billions, of people to die. He would pay the price for the rest of his unnaturally long life. Of course it would have been fairer if Sylar had taken part in that punishment as well, but the justice ended right about here.
One thing had remained the same ever since The Earthquake; Sylar held his ground in West America, and none dared to approach him. Only when he crossed to the side of East America, the government acted. Like today.
Peter waited, breathing in the fresh air. He would have enjoyed the scenery had it been something other than the dark, sad world of destruction he had created. The Ravine loomed in the horizon. If he looked the other way, he could just make out ruined cities that no one would ever re-build this close to the gorge and its edges of devastation.
His musings were interrupted when he could sense someone approaching. He knew he was alone, so Sylar was the only possibility, and frankly, who else would be flying? There were other special people still about – Peter assumed as much – but none of them would dare to come this close to a potential meeting with the serial killer.
Preparing himself, he ran a routine check through his powers, bringing each of them to the surface one at the time to see that they were fresh in his mind when the time came. It was so much like the old days before The Earthquake; they would clash in some place remote, powers at the ready like drawn guns.
"Should have known they would bring you back to be my welcome committee," Sylar drawled when he finally stopped before Peter.
"Just go back," Peter told him.
"Remember what I told you last time we met?"
Peter dug into his brain for it, not completely certain which time was the last, but… "You said you were lonely?" he guessed.
"Bingo," Sylar snapped his fingers, electric flash following the movement. The air was crackling.
"Mohinder is dead." Peter didn't know why he said it. Maybe because once Sylar and Mohinder had a thing between them; a deep, bitter need to kill one another – much like what he had felt for the guy all along.
"Really?" Sylar arched an eyebrow.
"Been dead for eight years," Peter nodded.
"Did you go to his funeral?"
Peter knew it was a jibe and not a question because Sylar was grinning.
"Why do you let them do that to you, Peter? You could wipe out their pitiful existence!" Sylar roared when he didn't respond.
"Because I have a conscience. Because I know I did something terrible, and I'm trying to pay back that debt," Peter replied smoothly.
"Is that what you tell yourself every time they kill you, just to wake you up whenever it suits them… How many disasters have there been since then? How many people have died that you could have saved, but they kept you in your coffin because it wasn't in their best interest to show you to the whole world?"
"And where were you?" Peter snapped back. "You could have helped those people. You and I…"
Sylar smiled as Peter bit back his words. "Yes, Peter. You and I are the same."
"We will never be!" Peter shouted and attacked. He was done talking. Well, he would have preferred words to fighting, but he wanted to hear nothing more from him; if Sylar thought the decisions he made were easy, and that he didn't dislike himself for them…
Peter froze the air around them, but a swift blast of nuclear heat from Sylar stopped it from getting out of hand. Then the other attacked him with fire, which Peter blocked then gave back some.
How long had it been since they both felt the thrill of a battle? How long since the fights neither of them could predict? It had been decades since they were both uncertain of the outcome. Now, it was just one blast after another, blocked and returned, invisible and flashing forces grappling with each other while they just… watched. The struggle was mental rather than physical. Peter couldn't believe he had once allowed this man to pierce his skull with a piece of glass.
Suddenly Sylar moved in. Peter hadn't been paying enough attention, and when the other dove, he wasn't prepared for it. Just like he wasn't ready for Sylar's fist connecting with his jaw. The pain was brief, the damage healing instantly, but it made him gaze at him in shock.
Maybe he wasn't the only one feeling the lack of passion in their encounters. The desire to kill one another was stale. If one of them died… their world wouldn't be the same. All they had ever known would be gone. As much as Peter hated Sylar for the things he had done and for what he represented, he couldn't deny that between them was a special bond, born of struggle, resentment, and loss.
"You're not in the moment," Sylar blamed him.
"Didn't bother me," Peter defended himself. He would have been capable to fight the other off… Then it dawned on him: when they clashed in the past, they pressed each other as hard as they could. Their powers were equal, so if one of them raised the stakes, the other had to follow. "You're not really fighting," Peter stated. "Why did you bother to come if you're not here to fight me?"
Sylar cocked his head, then smiled darkly. The burst of electricity came out of nowhere, accompanied with a shove of telekinesis. Peter crashed to the ground below, rocks breaking bones that instantly began to mend themselves again.
His nemesis followed him down from the sky, landing on top of him. Sylar crouched above Peter, looking at him, and Peter wondered if the other was going to slice his head open.
"You are no fun anymore," he told Peter instead, then braced himself and flew away.
Peter sat up, breathing hard, feeling baffled. Sylar had never been the most reasonable person he knew, and many of his antics used to confuse him, but this… Leaving in the middle of a fight? He wasn't going to go and ask him since Sylar was headed out towards the west and that's what Peter had been sent here to do. Now he should return to his handlers and allow them to take him back.
He looked up to the clear sky above him and wondered if it was Sylar who had got to him, or all the wasted years of his life and the death of his last friend alive. A death he hadn't been there to witness, or to mourn.
Clenching his fists, Peter shot up to the sky, flying faster and faster until he stopped and descended. Below the clouds he could see the almost recognizable city of New York. Something had happened to it during these years; it had been re-built after The Earthquake, and looked modern in a way he had seen other cities they passed in a helicopter earlier.
He sought the ground with his eyes for a moment, then teleported, making sure to stay invisible when he reappeared. The spot he had chosen used to be a cemetery, but now… Peter turned back visible and looked around. The ground was upturned and cracked. In some piles of dirt he could see jagged pieces of rocks – broken headstones. What was left of the cemetery his parents and Nathan had been buried in was just a landscape of long-abandoned and destroyed earth no one had cared to repopulate yet.
Peter walked around for a moment, but finding the right spot was impossible. He wondered if they had taken the bodies away before destroying the cemetery, or were they somewhere in those giant heaps of earth, long forgotten? He didn't want to believe that was the case because the memory of their dead had always been one thing human kin held onto.
Of course, if there was no one to remember…
He turned and walked away, sliding out through a gap in the high fence surrounding the area. A weathered, worn sign fastened to it informed him that trespassing wasn't allowed. Peter snorted and kept on walking.
The streets of Manhattan looked different. The crowds, the language, the buildings… it wasn't the same, somehow. Peter looked in through shop windows, strolled through several malls, and while it was still the world he used to live in, it seemed it had also moved on. Nothing was how it used to be.
He was hungry, but he knew he could survive it. He didn't want to steal or trick someone into giving him food. He was getting enough looks in his clothes, which made him use a power of illusion or invisibility to keep people from staring. He just wanted to walk around without interruptions.
It had been almost five hours when he suddenly came up to a roadblock in the middle of a street. The people were gone. A military car was parked on the other side of the roadblock, and several men with guns aimed at him when he rounded a corner. Above them a chopper was hovering. More cars came to a squealing halt, men pouring out, and shouts from people echoed in the air.
Peter shook his head. He had been so in thought he hadn't bothered to monitor what was going on around him, and now the army had found him. He should have reported back to his handlers hours ago. This wouldn't look good on his resume if he ever got one.
"Lay down on the ground, hands behind your head!" a man shouted to him.
Peter could tell he was afraid. The man's gun trembled just slightly. The streets around them had gone strangely silent.
"Get down now!" the man repeated, voice shaking.
Peter wondered if these men knew that if he wanted to escape, he could just zoom up to the sky, teleport, render them all unconscious or into unmoving zombies. He could blow up this street, this city, or perhaps this whole country. His eyes could turn into black liquid and everyone around him would die. He could poison the air.
All around him, guns clicked, ready to fire. The nervous thoughts of the men told Peter that they knew he was dangerous. They knew he could cause annihilation, and that it wouldn't be his first.
Peter lay down on the ground, placing his hands on the back of his head, and closed his eyes. Even the asphalt beneath him felt different. Smelled different. This was no longer his world.
A young black boy stepped up next to his examination table. He seemed kind of familiar – but not as familiar as his power, which Peter felt like a whisper in his head. He could not touch it, the one power that was never meant to be his. The Haitian's power.
"You knew my Grandfather, Peter Petrelli," the boy told him.
Peter just nodded.
One of the scientists stepped closer to him. Peter tensed, expecting the spike to slide into his brain at any moment. "Modify his memories. We can't have an accident like this to occur again."
The boy nodded, and his hand moved over Peter's eyes. Peter sighed and tried to relax. Soon, he would sink into deep sleep again…
His head burned, and he could feel that something was missing. And then he wasn't all that sure. A strange black boy stood beside his bed, in a room that looked far too modern to be 20th century. A man circled the table he lay on, but Peter rather looked at the boy.
The boy leaned in and whispered in his ear: "You can't dream if you're dead."
Peter frowned. "Yes, you can," he finally replied, although it made no sense.
The boy smiled and stepped away.
The man pressed a button, and Peter felt a hot pain at the back of his head, then…
He felt the last few inches of the spike sliding out of his skull, and everything was silent. He blinked, slowly, eyes regenerating to restore his vision.
Nathan was standing next to him, a smile on his face, although it seemed a little… off. Everything seemed a little strange. "Come, Pete," Nathan urged. "Come give your big brother a hug."
Peter leaned forward and sat up, then hugged him. Some part of his mind was trying to tell him this was illogical. "Nathan?" he murmured, voice barely there yet. His eyes slid past his brother, noticing a few unmoving bodies on the floor. No blood. The lights were flickering irregularly, electricity cracking in the air. The smell of burnt flesh…
Nathan just smiled, sliding a hand through his hair, catching Peter's gaze again. "I've come to release you, Peter," he said and smiled.
Not his brother's smile.